Are airlines – particularly low-cost carriers – age-friendly?
That’s a fair question, especially for people who may have grown up with the stability of a tightly regulated and largely government-run airline environment.
Today, people probably have more time to travel than at any stage in their lives. And, although we all feel ‘forever young’, a little comfort whilst flying goes a long way.
But, who doesn’t also keep a close watch on their bank account – which brings us back to flying on low-cost carriers.
After being bombarded with questions about age-friendliness in the skies, we decided to find out for ourselves.
So, we set out to take a flight – and produce an honest and blunt review, with an emphasis on age-friendliness.
The ideal test case
Coincidently, Scoot Airlines – the low-cost carrier owned by the Singapore Airlines group – this year added Europe to its schedules with a new service between Singapore and Athens.
This service appeared ideal for our low-cost carrier review for several reasons:
Scoot also has a premium cabin called ScootBiz whose added touches may particularly appeal to seniors – and can be comparable to the price of economy class on traditional, full-service airlines.
Scoot already flies between Singapore and our base in Australia, offering a perfect long-haul test route between Sydney and Greece.
Scoot is a fast-growing and ambitious low-cost carrier that also has plans to expand its European footprint and also take its service into the US market.
Scoot is not only an example of a low-cost carrier, but also offers the latest in new-generation wide-body planes such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner.
After doing this research, we approached Scoot about taking a truly objective look at the age-friendliness of its ScootBiz long haul product – and, to its credit, the airline agreed to open its doors to our scrutiny, with no strings attached.
As a result, we arrived today at Sydney’s International Airport ready to put ScootBiz under the microscope for our readers.
Our aim was simple: to review the ScootBiz service on a long-haul journey and detail our experience from an age-friendliness viewpoint.
The booking experience
We remember when just about the only options for buying plane tickets were over the phone or in person at an airport ticket counter.
These days, it’s mostly done online, but some people have horror stories about websites.
That’s not the case with http://www.flyscoot.com/en/, which is logical, accessible, large print and easy to understand.
There is even a help page on the website called ‘Scooting Booking Tips 101’ – and, if you still need assistance, Scoot has customer service call centres.
The packing experience
The real starting point with any plane trip is packing and this was made easier with the generous luggage allowance on ScootBiz – 30kg for checked baggage and two pieces of cabin baggage with a combined weight not exceeding 15kg.
Like many regular travellers, we try to keep heavy bags to a minimum, so the Scootbiz allowance was fine for us.
The airport experience
Navigating an airport can be downright disorienting – but, once again, the Scootbiz option is ideal.
A dedicated counter, priority check-in and boarding is all included in the fare.
It will apparently be the same at the other end, with ScootBiz passengers given priority disembarkation.
Flight: the first impression
Scoot’s Boeing 787 Dreamliners have plenty of ‘Wow Factor’, even if you usually think that a plane is just a plane.
Overall, our first impression was that the Dreamliner was stylish and spacious.
The windows seemed huge, the lighting soft and the decor fresh and spotless. And nowhere was this more evident than up-front in the premium Scootbiz section.
Wide and roomy reclining leather seats give you 56cm of space between the armrests and 96cm from headrest to headrest.
The seats have adjustable head and feet rests, with simple controls.
For us, that is especially important because it is undoubtedly the most comfortable seating we’ve encountered in a plane.
We could certainly get used to this!
The spacious ScootBiz seats also give heaps of legroom.
We’re able to stretch out with ease and move our legs around to prevent cramp. We’ve never felt this comfortable on a flight.
In ScootBiz, there’s also big overhead lockers that overcame the need to compete with fellow travellers for every bit of carry-on storage.
This is also ideal for senior travellers who may struggle with heavy luggage.
It’s comforting to know that your carry-on bags are close at hand and not several seats away down the plane.
We’re in ScootBiz seats IA and 1C and are charging our iPads with the in-seat power.
As well as writing this review on the in-flight wifi, we’ll use our devices later to check out Scoot’s entertainment system.
ScooTV is complimentary in ScootBiz and is streamed directly to your own device. We downloaded the necessary app a few days before our flights.
‘Scooties’ and meals
At the airport and throughout the flight, we’ve found the ‘Scooties’ – as the airline calls its staff – to be attentive, efficient and friendly. The cabin crew in ScootBiz really know their business and couldn’t be more helpful.
While preparing for this review, we read how Scoot’s move into long haul flights had been accompanied by a review of necessary changes in its food and drink menus.
This was our meal between Sydney and Singapore – and it was delicious.
This is also particularly important for senior travellers who may have more sedate tastebuds.
And, in ScootBiz, passengers can choose the premium meal options and they get two side servings along with the main dish.
In a nutshell, here are the broad findings of our review:
Q: Would we choose ScootBiz for a long flight over the economy section of a traditional legacy airline?
A: Without hesitation. We don’t see ourselves as ancient, but comfortable flying is certainly far more important now than it was back in the day.
And ScootBiz is, without doubt, a far more comfortable experience than any long-haul economy flight we have made in many decades of travelling.
The low-stress check-in at the airport; gentle loading onto the aircraft; and, so far, the care and comfortable surroundings of the flight have been eye-opening.
This is one of the roomiest, most modern and advanced planes we’ve experienced; no one has reclined their seat into our faces or clambered over us to use the toilet; there’s plenty of cabin storage; and the ScootBiz environment is an absolute pleasure.
In short, users trade back-of-the-seat entertainment for a superbly comfortable seat and superior trip in a state-of-the-art plane – all for a comparable price.
To us, it’s a no-brainer. ScootBiz is great value and meets all our needs – plus a lot more.
Keep watching for additional reports.
Our Age-Friendliness rating
10/10: From our experience, the ScootBiz premium cabin is all about comfort – and delivers it by the shovelful for all ages. This is long-haul flying as it should be from the moment you go on the Scoot website to book; through the quality airport experience; to the comfort of the 787 Dreamliner flight; and the exceptional customer service. This is the first time we have given a perfect Age-Friendliness score – and it is well deserved.
Note: Our flights for this review were courtesy of Scoot Airlines. But, as always, the opinions are fiercely independent.